Spring work on a Kurume Azalea

Peak bloom was very nice this year. This Kurume produces three flowers per bud. Normally I remove 2 and leave one per bud, but that is time-consuming and this year I just didn’t get to it. It made for a very bright, but congested show. It also meant a lot of weight was hanging on each branch.

Time to remove the flowers, as they peak quickly and fade fast. The top and back shows they’re already beginning to wither. Once they wither, it makes their removal more challenging than when you can grab the flower and cut it off at the base, including everything down to the husk, leaving only last year’s leaves in place.

This tree is getting big, more than 32″ wide at this point. The pot is 19″. This is gonna take a while…

A time-lapse of the next 2 hours…

Time to clean up…

A few cool shots around the tree during the work:

Next steps are to get some of the weeds out of the soil. For some reason oxalis has moved in and wants to take over.

Also, probably time to deal with that rot in the back. All the punky wood was scraped out, and a couple drainage holes were drilled through, so water won’t collect. Then, a liberal coat or two of PC Petrifier was applied.

Next up, scraping away the top 1/2″ of the old soil, and replaces with fresh.

Peter Warren stated that azaleas tend to constrict themselves over time, and get old. Look at old azaleas and you can see that the twigs get very thin and it makes transport of water up and sugars down difficult, weakening the tree over time. It’s important to keep them young with hard pruning occasionally. So after a week of rest and heavy doses of organic feeding, the tree hopped into the barber chair for a haircut. Before:

After:

The tree was reduced by about 25%…or this much:

With some luck, the tree with bud back strongly and next year I can continue to replace old ramification with new, and rejuvenate the Bonsai.

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Losing trees: Pyracantha problems persist

I’m resigned to lose this tree, but I’m not giving up just yet.  I have unscientifically diagnosed ithwith Fusarium wilt, and have been treating it with MycoStop.  The left trunk died last year, and the fungicide treatments seem to have only slowed down the advancement.  The right side is now showing symptoms too; mostly on the lowest back branch.



But, some upper branches are showing the telltale signs of yellowing leaf veins:


So, another round of branch removal…


And it still looks nice from a distance.  Maybe I’ll get another year or two to enjoy it:

Fall repotting of a Chojubai Quince

If you haven’t seen a chojubai Quince in person, their tiny scale may come as a surprise.  Leaves are the size of Chinese elm, even Seiju elm.  They grow strongly in the summer, and always seem to have a few flowers opening.  In the fall, the flower production really picks up and adds some nice color to the bench:


This summer, I noticed this one was becoming a bit anemic, with pale foliage and weak growth.  They always seem to slow down vegetative growth in mid summer, but this one started to concern me:


As I thought back, I couldn’t remember repotting it since at least 2014.  Michael Hagedorn recommends fall repotting for Chojubai, and while I do not like fall repotting, he really knows his stuff, so I thought I’d give it a try.  In late September, I combed out the soil, pruned the roots back by a third and replaced the soil, using akadama, lava, and pumice in equal proportions.

Before repotting:


After:


And less than a month later, the color and vigor is already noticeably improved:


Pot quiz:  who made it?
Answer: Bigei.  Did you get it right?  His rich, chocolate, burnished clays are unmistakable.